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Monday, April 12, 2010


For Holocaust Day, Jeff Jacoby re-ups an article about his Dad that was published in 1999. This is heart-rending:
Once I asked my father what had been uppermost in his mind when he was in the camps. Had there been something he always concentrated on, a mantra he clung to, a goal he never lost sight of?

I was hoping, I suppose, for something lapidary. Something like the exhortation of Simon Dubnov, the renowned Jewish historian, who was murdered by a Latvian guard in the Riga ghetto in 1941. Dubnov's last words were, Yiddin, schreibt un farschreibt -- "Jews, write it all down." Perhaps my father would say that he had never stopped thinking about one day bearing witness to what he had seen. Or that he was always looking for ways to sabotage the Nazis. Or that he dreamed of revenge. Or that every morning and evening he whispered the Sh'ma, the timeless Jewish credo -- "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One."

This is what my father told me: "I was always careful to watch my shoes. I slept with my shoes under my head, because if you lost your shoes you wouldn't survive for long."

It was hardly the answer I had imagined. Shoes? He's in the middle of the Holocaust, and he's thinking about his shoes?

But I have come to understand that my father was right. If shoes were utterly essential -- and when you are force-marched from Poland to Austria in the middle of winter and you will be shot dead if you fall or stumble, they are -- then shoes were precisely what he had to think about. The Jakubovic family, awash in blood, was nearly extinct. My father had to survive. The Jews had to survive. Somehow, despite everything, they had to go on, and if shoes could keep this Jew alive, then nothing was more important than shoes.

My father, God willing, will turn 74 this year. He has five children and -- so far -- 13 grandchildren. He keeps the Sabbath and fasts on Yom Kippur and eats matza on Passover. Every morning and every evening, he says the Sh'ma. He is a Jew who survived, and who survived as a Jew. May the memory of those who perished be a blessing.
Jeff's father lived while so many others didn't. We owe it to those who didn't make it to carry on.

Read the whole thing.


At 10:16 PM, Blogger Marquis said...

May G-d bless your father.

At 10:38 PM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

last week the chief rav of Poland and his colleagues survivied cs the wouldn´t fly on shabbat

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

Wow! Yes, shoes! My father (z"l), who suffered in the Mauthausen labor camp, told me that when it rained, he would take OFF his shoes and hide them from the damp. He said that he knew that if his shoes were wet, he would catch pneumonia and probably die. He saw how other inmates got sick wearing wet shoes. When the rain stopped, he would wipe off his wet feet and put on his dry, warm shoes.

Shoes - of course. When your life is at stake, you think of survival above all else.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

Beautiful to the core.

They try to exterminate us all yet we see the soul of a Jew can not be extinguished.

At 12:45 AM, Blogger rickismom said...

my dad, who was an American soldier in WW2 wrote in his memories about his feet being freezing cold in a jeep ride in the freezing German winter. When I read that, I could only think: freezing cold IN shoes? What about those with half-shoes????


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